Baby GoGo: A doll for boys, and girls

Photo of the Baby GoGo doll with its accompanying book, and a photo of an Asian boy hugging the doll.

Baby GoGo by Little Sib bills itself as “a modern doll appropriate for a boy or a girl to play with.”

At its core, you’re buying a 13-inch gender-neutral doll wearing gender-neutral sleepwear. It comes with a blanket and a picture book titled Baby GoGo Goes Home, for a total suggested retail price of $40. A color-coordinated diaper bag is $25, and a Moses Bed will be available this summer.

As the title indicates, the picture book’s premise is that Baby GoGo was just born and is coming home, perhaps making it well-suited to a child expecting a sibling.

Offhand, it seems like you could buy any baby doll with a bald head that doesn’t have lipstick or earrings, and then dress it in real non-blue, non-pink infant clothes, or perhaps preemie clothes.

Sure, you might spend some time finding such clothes. I guess by that time you might have already spent $40.

If you want an actual boy doll, you’ll find that most are sold as anatomically-correct potty training dolls because… why else would you be buying your son a doll? Gasp.

I’m totally supportive of a doll company inviting parents to give their sons a doll. There’s nothing wrong about a boy modeling positive fathering behavior.

The William’s Doll song is available on CD, DVD or book.

I was happy to see a photo of a boy holding the doll on the company’s website, but then I noticed he’s Asian. And there’s a photo with an Hispanic girl. And three images containing Caucasian children. I noticed because the doll looks, at least to me, Caucasian.

So it seems they tackled the gender issue, but have yet to address the identity issue. I’ve previously written:

“It strikes at the heart of issues such as how a child develops concepts of personal body image and beauty. Should a black mother be happy when a daughter tells her she doesn’t want to be black (because society has ingrained imagery that white skin is the ideal)? It happens.”

Photo of an Hispanic girl playing with the doll and a photo of a white girl playing with the doll.

I wonder if a non-white family wouldn’t want a gender-neutral Caucasian doll at a time when their son or daughter is learning their racial identity. It’s an issue tied to the development of the concepts of beauty and self-esteem, with the notion that surrounding a non-white child with mostly white playthings contributes to a child’s viewing Caucasians as prettier, or Caucasian playthings more preferable.

To the company’s credit, it describes the doll as having a “medium skin tone.” I think perhaps it’s medium by Caucasian standards. I’d say Dora the Explorer has a medium skin tone, not in a true sense because Dora is pretty pale, but medium in the sense that she’s obviously not Caucasian and also not dark-skinned.

So… whatcha think?

  • Would you buy your son a doll?
  • Does a boy’s doll need to look like a boy? (Remember the My Buddy doll? It was marketed as a friend, not a baby to be cared for.)
  • If you are non-white, does the skin color bother you?

See related: Are Doll Houses Okay for Boys?

Comments

13 Responses to “Baby GoGo: A doll for boys, and girls”

  1. silver says:

    When I was pregnant with my 2nd, I bought a baby doll for my son. I just bought a bald baby that was dressed in blue. The only time he played with it like a baby was when his sister was born–then he pretended to nurse his doll.

    He’s really gentle with real babies, but with that doll he was constantly carrying it around by its head.

    I have no issue with buying my son a baby doll–but I don’t think I would have bought him one dressed in pink ruffles.

    June 30th, 2010 at 6:09 am

  2. Jed G says:

    We have a few boy dolls – “Christopher” and “Joey” that belonged to my wife and her brother when they were young. My eldest son (now 3.5yo) did play with them more when he was younger, and especially around the time our youngest son (now 1yo) was born (4-5 months before and 2+ months after). But most recently Joey’s been dragged by the head, or tossed downstairs. Cars, trains, and bears (stuffed) have been the most interesting/persistent toys for my youngest, due most likely to sibling imitation.

    June 30th, 2010 at 8:26 am

  3. anjii says:

    I think ALL boys should have a baby doll… why do people think it’s okay for girls to practice being mommies, but boys don’t need to practice being daddies? Basically, it’s the same thing to me as why boys need dollhouses… they like to act out their lives and mimic what they see, as much as girls do.

    I will admit though, that even though my sons may have a daughter one day, I had no desire to get them a frilly pink girl doll. I searched long and hard till I finally found a basic boy doll (made by Graco, to go with their stroller/playpen line for dolls). His clothes were ugly though, so I bought some cuter ones for stuffed bears instead… and some cloth diapers and wipes :)

    June 30th, 2010 at 9:52 am

  4. Angelique says:

    I have two boys and we have about four dolls. One is a gender neutral baby doll that came with both boy and girl clothes. The other is an anatomically correct boy baby doll, that drinks, wets and is safe for the tub. The other two are Waldorf-style soft boy dolls (14 inch boys with clothes, not babies and not anatomically correct). The Waldorf-style dolls (really decently priced knock-offs, not the custom expensive ones) I got to match skintone (light and light medium) and hair color for each of my kids (one being blond and one being dark brunette).

    My first son hasn’t ever really been “into” any of the dolls, but he does play pretend with them once in a while (we have a dollbed and kitchen set as well) My little guy, however, LOOOOVES his “Babies” (the plastic baby dolls) and carries them all over, hugging them, feeding them from his sippy and giving them kisses. The Waldorf dolls seem to stay in their beds as “Buddies” for bedtime.

    I figure my boys need to nurture and be nurtured, so of course they need dolls. My hubby agrees and has fully supported having dolls in the house. We pretty much follow the kids’ leads. We give them a wide base and then as they have interest in an area, we might provide more items for play in that area, regardless of gender. (I.E. we started with a few play cooking items, and when that was a hit, expanded to a kitchen set with plenty of play food).

    As I understand it, pretending is good for all kids. Pretending helps kids make sense of the world around them; exposing kids to a wide base of gender, race and culture helps them to become more openminded individuals. We cannot change the world around our kids, but we can help our kids grow up to be global-minded citizens, the kind of people that will change the world themselves.

    June 30th, 2010 at 9:53 am

  5. KGS says:

    Funnily enough, my daughter has specifically told me she likes having a doll who “looks like her” (which she defines as having the same eye and hair color). I haven’t noticed whether boy dolls are harder to find in various skin/eye/hair combos than girl dolls, but I know her preschool has a wide variety of anatomically correct (and non-potty-oriented) baby boy and girl dolls of every hue and description lying around in various states of undress, so they must be available. Maybe teaching supply websites would have a better selection then most stores?

    June 30th, 2010 at 1:58 pm

  6. Angelique says:

    baby boy dolls can be found pretty easily, but male child-age dolls are not so easy to find (especially if you’re looking for something other than white male with light brown/blond hair). Case in point-I have yet to find a male equivalent of an American Girl doll or an Only Hearts doll. My son settled for a Barbie and Ken doll I pulled out of storage from my childhood toys, but I think he really was looking for a boy (not a man with bad plastic 80s hair) that looked like him.

    June 30th, 2010 at 5:56 pm

  7. Sara says:

    I got my toddler son (17 months) a doll when his sister was born but he pretty much ignores it. He would rather help take care ofhis newborn sis, which he does, very gently too.

    July 1st, 2010 at 9:11 am

  8. Tiffany says:

    My son, now 4, has really never been interested at dolls. Even observing him at preschool, where they had several dolls, he was just not interested (he’s even said, when presented with some old dolls at grandma’s, that he “doesn’t want to play with a dolly”). HOWEVER, his many stuffed animals play that part on a daily basis- he designates babies, mommies, daddies, grandparents, etc, they feed the children, go camping, go to sleep, etc. His (millions of) cars do the exact same thing. In his case, he treats the cars and animals as if they were dolls, enacting the same behaviors. So I really think it may be what your particular child prefers. He’s also very good with babies- so not having a “real” doll doesn’t seem to have been an issue. What may be more important is father-modeling. His cars and animals have daddies that feed their babies lunch or go to the playground or for a drive all the time- because my husband is a very involved parent. Getting a boy a doll without having a male to model the behavior is probably not going to be as effective as if a good male models the caring behavior, which can be played out with a variety of toys, whether doll or car.

    July 1st, 2010 at 10:46 am

  9. Danielle says:

    We bought my son a doll when he was about 18 months. It was fairly gender neutral, to be honest I don’t really remember it all that well. We bought it on the recommendation of his physical therapist that it would help encourage imaginative play and to help with some of our therapy sessions.
    That being said, he never had ANY interest in it. It just seemed to be a blob that he didn’t really connect with. Similar, in fact, to how he related to his sister for a long time.
    On the other had, stuffed animals? He is now 4.5 and he has ~20 regulars that have conversations and families and every scenario imaginable.

    So I suppose I’m with Tiffany, he models the behavior of his father frequently with his animals and various toys. But for him dolls? ho hum.

    July 1st, 2010 at 5:25 pm

  10. Lady in a Smalltown says:

    My little guy is only 13 months, so he’ll play with anything. He likes to chew on the dollies at school, so we got him one. It was hard to find one not in pink and purple. I finally found a small (a little bigger than my hand) bald doll in an orange and blue outfit.

    I would like to buy him a set of Bitty Twins from the American Girl Doll company. We are white and he is blonde/blue, but I thought I would get boy-boy twins, one that looks like him and one of the non-Caucasian boys, so they can be friends or nonbiological brothers.

    July 2nd, 2010 at 7:57 pm

  11. Jeanne says:

    Your post made me think of Elna Baker’s story on a This American Life episode. (Episode 347:
    MATCHMAKERS http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/347/Matchmakers). It’s a disturbing story.

    July 7th, 2010 at 6:00 pm

  12. Lisa says:

    My now 6 yr old son and his little sister are 14 months apart. When she turned one, she was gifted a Baby ChouChou doll (her very first baby doll) dressed in a yellow sleepy outfit and cap. Somehow my son claimed it as his and his sister never minded. Even now, he makes sure that his baby “Michael” is a very happy baby. It’s his little buddy baby. I have zero issue with my son playing any games that are traditionally played by little girls…..Every thing/one needs a balance, a yin and a yang including my son. One time he had a fit while playing Pretty Pretty Princess with us and said “oh! I will NEVER get to be the Princess”-he didn’t get the tiara. My daughter and I took him very seriously, though it was quite hilarious……it’s all in good fun. No harm done.

    August 2nd, 2010 at 11:13 pm

  13. Lisa says:

    @Jeanne. WOW that IS a very disturbing story!

    August 16th, 2010 at 6:42 pm

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